A DUI charge can be a scary event for anyone. It’s helpful to understand the process. When you get a DUI, there are a series of events that happen both during and after your case moves through the courts. Our criminal defense attorneys explain what happens in PA when you get a DUI:
When you get a DUI in PA, you may be arrested, or you may be free until you have court hearings. You can expect a series of court hearings. You might have a trial, but most cases don’t go to trial. If you’re convicted, you face a sentencing hearing and a number of potential penalties. You may receive jail time, fines, probation and a suspension of your driver’s license. The potential penalties vary based on how high your bodily alcohol content is at the time of the arrest and whether you have a prior conviction for DUI.
The DUI process in Pennsylvania typically begins with an arrest. Usually, you’re arrested at the time of the DUI investigation. You may be released before your arraignment, or you may be brought immediately before a judge for your arraignment.
Whether or not you’re released from jail before your court hearing usually comes down to the time of your arrest and when a judge is available for the hearing. At your arraignment, the court reads the charges and sets conditions for the bond. In some cases, there may be a delay in bringing the charges forward. A delay can happen when there’s a wait for chemical testing results for cases involving a blood draw or controlled substances.
After your arraignment, your case moves into the pre-trial phase. You may use this time to file preliminary motions to exclude evidence. It’s also a time to discuss settlement options or make your case to the state attorney for why they should dismiss the charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney is critical to helping you use the pre-trial process effectively.
If you choose to take your case to trial, the court schedules the trial. In most cases, you resolve the case with a pre-trial plea agreement. The court may also dismiss the charges because of constitutional grounds or in response to other errors by law enforcement.
At your sentencing hearing, you receive your sentence from the judge. For a first-time offender with low bodily alcohol content, jail time is unlikely. If you have a high bodily alcohol content, you may receive jail time.
In all cases, fines, a license suspension, probation and mandatory substance abuse treatment are a standard part of a sentence. For repeat offenders, up to five years in prison is possible. The judge has significant discretion in sentencing, so it’s important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney in order to receive the best sentence possible. Then, you comply with the sentence until you have fulfilled all of the terms of your probation. If you’re not convicted, you have no penalties.
Have you been charged with DUI? Do you need help understanding the DUI process in PA? It’s important to understand what happens when you get a DUI in Pennsylvania. Call us today for your free consultation